"You sure I can't convince you to stay?"
With those eyes, you could.
"You're psychic, Charles", Erik said, not sure if he wished Charles had heard his thoughts or not. "You can convince me to do anything."
He was already walking away, had already turned his back to Charles. Why, though? He didn't know where he would go, or what he would do.
Why was Charles letting him do this again?
"Good bye, old friend."
Erik stopped, just for two seconds, three would have made him turn around.
"Good luck, professor."
And so Erik left him, left all of them behind. Because that was what he did, he went his own way.
What good would he be in here, anyway? Parents wouldn't exactly be ecstatic to hear he lived in the same house with their children, no matter how Moira had tried to clear his name.
No, it was good for everyone if he would just let them be. Charles would have convinced him to stay if he'd wanted Erik here, and he hadn't. He had seen they still didn't agree on things, he had decided it was better not to stop Erik.
So this was it, then.
Erik stepped out of the mansion, down the stairs into the driveway and the garden, when he heard the wheelchair behind him.
"Erik", Charles called. "Wait."
If Erik hadn't build those little ramps all around the house for him, Charles wouldn't have been able to reach him in time. Maybe Erik had known it, maybe he hadn't, but there he was now, waiting for Charles at the end of the stairs.
Charles hadn't believed Erik would actually leave, not this time.
"Are you seriously going to make me use my powers on you?" Charles asked, laughed, even though his smile faded into something more serious.
"It's not like I'd be able to stop you", Erik answered, a small smile of relief hardly visible on his face. "I don't have my helmet."
"If you want to stay, stay." Charles leaned on the left armrest of his metallic chair. "If you want me to talk you into it, I will."
Erik avoided his eyes, watched the children playing on the yard. He didn't say anything, he wasn't going to let Charles see that he wanted to stay.
Charles didn't need his powers to see it.
"We need teachers, Erik", he said, trying to reach out to that part of Erik that knew what he was supposed to do. What he needed. "And we could use someone who'd train the x-men with Raven."
This was probably what they both needed. For him to stay.
Erik sighed. "Can you imagine me as a teacher, Charles?"
"Of course I can."
Erik shook his head, closing his eyes so he didn't need to meet the sincere look on Charles' face when mumbling: "Of course."
Charles could only imagine the doubts Erik was having, about himself, about the students and their parents...
"You'd be an excellent teacher", Charles said, driving his chair just a bit closer to Erik. "We will let everyone know what a good person you are. The children will look up to you. You can teach them languages, history, whatever you wish. And I'm sure Raven would love to work with you."
"I appreciate your offer." Erik started pacing, aimlessly through the wide green fields around the mansion, his hands in his pockets. "But I need to go home."
"We are your home", Charles told him, following him between the trees, dodging a frisbee that almost hit his head.
Erik stopped for a moment.
Maybe it was a bit unfair, to use almost the exact same words Erik himself had said to his wife when trying to convince his family leave their home in Poland.
'We are her family.'
Charles had seen it, had felt the love and the fear Erik had felt, and the memory of his lost, far heavier than anyone should be forced to bear.
But this was the truth, surely Erik knew it.
"You can take all the time you need", Charles said, staying few feet back from Erik, giving him space. "Rest, mourn, think about it, as long as you feel. Just... Don't leave again."
He heard Erik let out a soundless laugh. "So you really want me to stay?"
Charles followed Erik as he went through the children playing, running and lying in the shadows of the trees.
They arrived to the pond, where they were left alone.
"And I believe I'm not the only one."
Erik said nothing.
They stayed there, side by side by the pond, both of them looking at the calm water reflecting the bright blue sky along with all the green surrounding them.
"What happened to that tree?" Erik pointed at the old tree that was lying on the ground across the pond, split in half. "I thought it was your favorite."
"Oh", Charles chuckled. "We had a little incident with one of the new students. I believe you met Scott?"
"The one with red glasses?"
"Yes. Alex's brother", Charles said. "He's part of the x-men now."
"You do have a handful with these kids, don't you." Erik finally let himself look at Charles.
"Indeed." Charles couldn't help his own smile. "And I'd be happy to welcome all the help I can get."
Erik gazed upon the pond for a while, but only for the dramatic effect, for Charles could tell he had already made up his mind.
"Maybe I should give it a try", Erik said. "I'd better get the fanciest room in the house, though."
"Of course." Charles grinned. "You can even have my room if it makes you happy."
Erik smiled at him. "Calm down, professor, I was just joking."
"I know", Charles said and turned his chair. "Shall we get back then? Or do you want to stay outside and look into the paperwork later?"
Erik went with him.
"I'm glad you're staying, I really am", Charles told Erik as they made their way back to the house, to his home. Their home, now even more perfect than before.
"Because, you know", Charles added at the front door. "Hank doesn't like chess."
How good it felt to hear Erik laugh again.